Cookie-Stuffing Targeting jcwhitney.com
Cookie-Stuffing Targeting Major Affiliate Merchants - Ben Edelman
This page reports cookie-stuffing by a2zrewards.com, targeting jcwhitney.com.
As of November 4, the http://www.a2zrewards.com/frame.asp?vcode=516 page was #29 in Google results for "jcwhitney coupon" (without quotes). This URL consists of a frameset as follows:
<frameset rows="85,100%" frameborder="NO">
<frame name=frame0 src="topframe.asp?DI=6316&vi=516&vendorurl=true" scrolling=no target="_blank">
<frame name=frame1 Src="http://www.qksrv.net/click-261427-1157440" scrolling=auto target="_blank">
The net effect is that when a user follows the Google search result, cookies are set automatically -- precisely the definition of cookie-stuffing. Had a2zrewards.com wanted to both frame the jcwhitney site and avoid the risk of cookie-stuffing, it would have needed to tell Google not to index its framing pages, e.g. using META tags or a robots.txt file to that effect. Alternatively, a2zrewards.com could have used session-based analysis or HTTP Referer header analysis to avoid invoking tracking links as users enter the a2zrewards site.
Notwithstanding that the net effect of the HTML code above is to stuff cookies (setting cookies automatically when users reach this page via direct links from search engines or elsewhere), the affiliate may or may not have intended cookie-stuffing to result. See discussion on ABestWeb. However, because the a2zrewards.com/frame.asp page includes HTML META tags (description and keywords) that serve to bolster search engine rankings, a2zrewards might be taken to be more likely (than the other affiliates whose FRAMESETs cause cookie-stuffing) to have intended to receive direct click-throughs from search engines, to cause its cookies to be stuffed by the FRAMESET, and to earn affiliate commissions as a result.
I captured the resulting on-screen display in a video (WindowsMedia format, view in Full Screen mode). I also preserved a full packet log of these findings.
In my testing, this is but one of many affiilate web sites targeting this and other merchants. For example, the current number nine Google result for "jcwhitney coupon" is www.consumernow.com/JCWhitney_coupon , which uses cookie stuffing precisely along the lines of that shown as to consumernow's targeting of Toshiba and Netzero. See also consumernow.com targeting of jcwhitney.com.